Lightfoot’s New Plan to Address Mental Health Care

During his first year in office, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel shuttered six mental health clinics. As a mayoral candidate, Lori Lightfoot vowed to reopen those clinics.

As a part of her budget address this week, Lightfoot unveiled a new plan for the city that includes $9.3 million to expand mental health centers at 20 outpatient clinics, including five run by the city.

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“We will be fixing our system by charting a new path and a new way forward towards treating, identifying and supporting our fellow Chicagoans struggling with mental health,” Lightfoot said Wednesday at City Hall. “This is an issue that impacts every Chicagoan. But far too many of Chicago’s residents cannot get access to the treatment they need.”

The Framework Plan for Mental Health aims to “make services more accessible, ensure victims of violence receive mental healthcare in the neighborhoods hardest-hit by trauma, strengthen crisis prevention and response for people who need care outside of clinics and ensure every resident who needs help is linked to care,” according to the city.

Among those services: cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma-informed care for youth and young adults who are at the highest risk of violence. Among 10- to 24-year-old African Americans, homicide is the leading cause of death, according to the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention at the University of Chicago.

As for whether or not those six clinics shuttered in 2012 will be reopened, acting Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says, “We are investing in our five existing CDPH clinics. When we look at our own data each of those clinics on average is only serving 500 people per year. Our first goal is making sure that those clinics are operating at capacity and seeing all the patients that they can see.”

Additionally, the city’s new plan will include an anti-stigma campaign to assist those who have mental health issues who are hesitant to seek out services in a standalone setting. 

The new plan is expected to go into effect in 2020. 

Arwady joins “Chicago Tonight” in discussion.

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